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The Smell Of Success? — Sniffing Out The Ken Paves You Are Beautiful Haircare Collection

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There are hair stylists and then there are mane whisperers, maestros who look at strands as prime building materials with which to craft compelling narratives and create visual masterpieces. Ken Paves ranks among the latter category — after all, the man has not only tended to the tresses of celebrities like Eva Longoria, Jessica Simpson, and Victoria Beckham, but he’s also been one of the innovative masterminds behind edgy editorial shoots (including one in which he created avant-garde hairstyles using his Hairdo clip-in hair extensions) and splashy runway-ready ‘dos. But rather than restricting the average woman’s knowledge of his healthy hair secrets and styling tricks, Paves has made it his mission to democratize the hairstyling industry. He’s long worked the talk show circuit, showing viewers how to replicate seemingly complex, fresh-off-the-catwalk hairstyles using his affordable Hairdo extensions. And, in 2013, he released You Are Beautiful, an uplifting tome that celebrates the innate beauty of everyday women (not Hollywood A-listers!), encourages women to feel confident and powerful, and offers simple tips on how to enhance their natural assets. Now, he’s followed on the success of his book with the launch of a new vegan, cruelty-free, sulfate- and paraben-free, and gluten-free haircare line available exclusively at Walmart and Walmart.com: the Ken Paves You Are Beautiful collection.

All the products in the collection are priced at under $20, and they’re formulated with a blend of 100% essential oils that nourish, smooth, protect, and revitalize strands. Ken Paves’ mission when creating the line was to offer all women access to the tools with which to attain and maintain a healthy mane and scalp, the means through which to feel like, they too, are as beautiful as any Hollywood starlet.

At the heart of the collection are the Ken Paves You Are Beautiful Nourish & Hydrate Shampoo ($13 at Walmart and Walmart.com) and Nourish & Hydrate Conditioner ($15 at Walmart and Walmart.com). Now, since I started using these products I’ve noticed an incredible difference in both the appearance and feel of my hair. Even after a single use, the shampoo and conditioner left my strands feeling soft and looking bouncy, voluminous, frizz-free, and lustrous. And, unlike so many shampoos that make my faux blonde hair start looking brassy and lifeless, these did not have that unwanted effect. These effects can be attributed to such botanical ingredients as: sunflower seed extract, which protects hair color thanks to its high vitamin E concentration; sugar cane extract, which detangles and moisturizes hair (lest we forget, sugar is a natural humectant!); oat peptides that moisturize locks and help to repair existing damage; clove leaf oil, which stimulates the scalp and helps to promote hair growth; basil oil and camphor oil, both of which are credited with improving blood circulation, thereby helping to foster a healthy scalp and stimulate hair growth; anise oil, which is also believed to stimulate growth; and orange peel oil, a mild cleansing agent and conditioner.

The problem? The shampoo and conditioner smell dreadful. The first time I used these products, I was getting over a cold and was so congested that my sense of smell had all but vanished, so I noticed a peculiar odor but nothing I would’ve described as offensive at the time. The next time I cleansed my hair, I did notice the pungent odor of the shampoo and conditioner, but I hoped my nose was failing me, that perhaps I hadn’t fully recovered my olfactory abilities. But then I walked into my bedroom and sat down on the bed, a towel turban wrapped around my head. The moment I unraveled the twisted towel and released my damp locks, my husband made a sniffing sound and quipped, “What smells like wet dog?” Right away, I yelped, “Oh my gosh! Could it be my hair?” He leaned in closer and said, “Babe, that kind of smells like dog shampoo.” Harumph! Could it be that the products that were making my hair beautiful were also making it smell repulsive?

The third time wound up being an eye-opening experience. By then, my nasal passages were clear and I was determined to find out whether, in fact, the Ken Paves You Are Beautiful Nourish & Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner had my hair smelling like a doggy day care. Sadly, I soon discovered the full extent of their malodorousness. Though their packaging touts the ylang ylang, geranium, and citrus in their respective formulas, these are not the dominant smells but, rather, a combination of camphor (which just reminds me of Vicks Vapor Rub), clove (this is probably the most offensive to my sense of smell), rosemary, basil, and anise (which, when paired with the aforementioned smells, just adds to the rank aroma).

So then my conundrum kicked into full gear: would I continue using these products and enjoying their benefits in terms of the appearance and overall health of my hair or would I eschew them because of their foul smell? I’m still deliberating on the issue, but I’m leaning towards the latter — after all, it would be nice for my hubby to feel content when he smells my strands rather than being reminded of the years he spent scrubbing down a pet Shih Tzu in an apartment bathtub!

If I do choose to gravitiate towards a better-smelling haircare collection, the hardest product for me to give up will be the Ken Paves You Are Beautiful Relaxing Balm ($17 at Walmart and Walmart.com) which smooths strands, controls frizz and fly-aways, and keeps humidity from wreaking havoc on your mane. I absolutely love this balm! It has a gel-like feel at first (it’s even slightly sticky but much less unctuous than a gel) but, as you smooth it over strands, it eliminates static electricity and reduces frizz without weighing down strands and making them appear limp and lifeless or, for that matter, leaving behind any flake-y residue. That said, it does suffer from a similar stench, though this one is slightly more palatable, perhaps due to the presence of black, green, and white tea extracts. I adore how this product softens and polishes my strands,s o I can only hope they tweak the formula a bit to make its scent more palatable.

Now, here’s the good news: my other favorite product, the Ken Paves You Are Beautiful Repair & Nourish Shine Serum ($14 at Walmart and Walmart.com) smells significantly better than any of the aforementioned products. This lightweight serum can be applied to damp or dry strands but is most effective on the former, penetrating the surface area of the hair to hydrate strands from within, making them appear fuller and plumper while also improving the texture of strands and boosting their glossiness. Unlike so many serums, this one feels positively weightless. I even enjoy massaging it onto my ends which tend to get a bit frayed. If your scalp tends to get oily, simply apply the serum from the mid-lengths to the ends while, if you suffer from dry hair (like me), you can distribute it evenly all over the head.

I respect and admire what Ken Paves is hoping to accomplish with this line, and these products do in fact deliver the intended results, so my objections stem only from my persnickety sense of smell. If you, however, do not object to strong scents like clove, camphor, basil, and rosemary, then you might just find your next go-to hair care line!

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